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by C. Asaravala. Photography by Neef Gilbert

It was the eighties, not the seventies or sixties, which were the greatest years for muscle cars. The cars of the late '60s and '70s were turning ten-plus years old and hitting peak depreciation. Add to this the emerging fuel crisis and emissions laws, and you had low demand for an abundance of used Detroit iron. The high-school students of the 80's, whether forced into these cars by desire or by affordability, would be the biggest contributors to muscle car culture as we know it today.

Take Tim Gilbert for instance. Fresh out of high-school in 1981 he bought a 1968 Torino for a mere $400. The 390 FE equipped formal hardtop set the wheels in motion for Tim to own a variety of Torino's over the next 26 years.

Fast forward to 2004. Tim, now an aerospace engineer in Southern California, has never quite found the one Torino he's always been after - a factory big block 4-speed 1970 GT. He desires the GT over the more sought after Cobra because in Tim's eyes, the SportsRoof body and GT options make the most aggressive looking Torino produced. In his quest to find this car he ponders why Ford never put the Boss 429 motor in the Torino. The closest they got was the 1969 Torino Talledega built for NASCAR, however the production versions only came with 428 Cobra Jet engines. Somewhere in this day dream Tim decides he should build the Boss Torino that Ford never did.

Not before long Tim and his father are driving from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City to pick up the starting materials: one 1970 Torino GT 'J' code (see sidebar). It's an original 429 4-speed car, and the perfect candidate for his Boss Torino concept.

The $6500 final price for the Torino may be the cheapest invoice in the Boss Torino project file. Three years later Tim is somewhere in the $40,000 range in labor and parts - a number he reluctantly tallied only upon our request. The Boss Torino project is well beyond the halfway point now, and this is where we pick up the story. We aren't writing this story as a how-to, because this really isn't a project many, or any, of us would ever take on. However we do write it from a journalistic viewpoint because, while big-budget cars are created all the time, the effort and story behind them is rarely documented. It's history in the making, and if anything we can all gain some inspiration from it. So follow along over the next several months as we see Tim Gilbert's Boss Torino dream come to fruition.

1970 Torino GT
Ford produced three distinct generations of the Torino between 1968 and 1976 and fans align themselves respectively. The '68 and '69 years emulated the Fairlane body style from which the model evolved. In 1970 and 1971 the body style changed dramatically with a more aggressive profile. It's these two years that many argue are the most aggressive looking. The full-framed Torino's from 1973-1976 shared some of the previous generation's styling cues, but tend to have a fan base solely dedicated to this era of Torino.

The hideaway headlights made the 1970 Torino GT look purely demonic. Surprisingly this grill style was only available on wagons, Brougham edition, and the GT models. The Cobra received standard round head lights.

The "SportsRoof" body style and single tail-light panel carry the menacing image through to the rear of the car. We like how the bumpers are also tightly integrated into the body lines.

Tim tackled the suspension first. He lowered the car nearly 2" around using custom coil springs from Deaborn Classics.

While the body appears fairly straight, Tim said that one of the previous owners had taken a sledge hammer to the wheel wells in attempts to fit bigger tires. The dents were concealed with Bondo.


Teardown

Tim's dad had an F150 so together they made the journey into Americas Heartland to pick up the car. Tim says though the car was rough, it got plenty of looks on the drive home. Note the gas prices in late 2004 - the dollar-eighty range!
 
Even the high-performance Torino came with a lack luster dash. Tim installed a tachometer to keep an eye on the rpms, but plans call for installation of a gauge cluster from a 1970 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler. They came with functional tach, speedo, oil and water gauges.
     

Back in his garage Tim began the tear down process. The car was originally red. The floor pans were in surprisingly good shape for the Oklahoma car.
 
One of Tim's criteria in searching for a Torino GT was that all of the sheet metal had to be original and in decent shape. Tim says the only sheetmetal he had to replace was the hood and the front right fender extension.
     

The rust damage on the car wasn't all that bad considering the cars origin. Perhaps Oklahoma is OK after all.
 
The severity of the damage inflicted by the previous owners' attempts to make room for bigger tires can be seen here. "And this is the good side," Tim told us.
     

With the Torino striped to it's skeleton, you can bet Tim was wondering just how deep he'd gotten himself into. As he puts it, "If Jay Leno says he's the President of the More Money than Brains Club, I must be the Executive VP."
 
Stripped down to a rolling shell the Torino is ready for it's first stop, Dan Fink Metal Works in Huntington Beach. It's now early 2006.


 

In This Article:
If Ford had built a Boss Torino what would it look like? FM begins coverage of one man's quest to build this car. Follow Tim Gilbert's no holds barred resurrection of a 1970 Torino GT with a Boss 429 engine.


Tim Gilbert standing next to the Boss 429 he found on eBay. The final bid was ten-grand. Tim says the motor had unmatched heads (C9 and D0 castings) but in perfect shape. He'll replace the bottom end with a 460-based stroker. We'll cover that build in the next issue.

 

Tim located the rare 1970 Torino GT in Oklahoma City. The 'J' code meant a 429 Cobra Jet and Shaker hood. Plus this car was optioned with a 4-speed manual. Marti report suggests only 412 GT's were made with this combo. In contrast over two thousand Cobra's were produced with this setup.
 

Most folks would be quite content with the factory specified 429 cubic inches, rated at 370 horsepower. But when you are fulfilling a dream there is no lack of creativity (and apparently no lack of funds either.) Tim has purchased an original Boss 429 motor for this project.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chassis Work and Engine Fitting
 

The first order of business for John West at Dan Fink MetalWorks was to cut the shock towers back to allow clearance for the massive Boss heads. About 1.5" can be cut back without having to alter the spring or shock location.
 
Since the plans call for over 700 horsepower from the Boss motor, stiffening the flexy unit-body was next on the agenda. 1" x 3" steel box beams were installed for reinforcement.
     

Steel plates welded between the beams and original unit-body members provide additional torsional rigidity.
 
Back in Tim's garage the Boss motor is set into the engine bay. The Boss 429 is exactly 3" wider than a standard 429 engine.
     

The Boss motor is all about the heads. Even though Tim's eBay find came with an unmatched set of heads, both were in excellent condition and fully assembled.
 
The Boss 429 was Ford's response to the Chrysler's Hemi. The "semi-hemispherical" aluminum heads featured crescent shaped chambers and massive valves.
     

The motor came with this Weiand dual quad tunnel-ram intake manifold. Since Tim was adamant about keeping the factory Shaker hood this intake would not suffice.
 
Tim sourced this rare original Nascar Spyder intake from Boss Performance in Spokane, WA. The price was $1500, with the sellers only willing to negotiate on whether Tim paid with a cashiers check or money order.
     

Tim intends to run a 1250cfm Holley Dominator carburetor with the stroked Boss motor. In order to maintain the stock Shaker hood, and keep it functional, Tim had to modify the original air cleaner to fit over the massive Dominator venturis.
 
The body shop wanted the vehicle loaded with the weight of drivetrain before they went to work aligning the body panels. Tim temporarily installed the Boss 429, but it will come out for a full rebuild. Plans call for over 500 cubic inches using a 460 block.
 
 
Bodywork
 

In May 2006 the Torino makes its way to GMT Metalworks for the longest (and most expensive) part of the project thus far. This is where Tim realizes the magnitude of the body work required to bring the car up to standards.
 
Over the next five months Geoff Medford Taylor applies his talents to repairing the Torino's sledged and dimpled quarter panels. The metal was so badly stretched that the inner panels had to be cut out in order to access the skin. The skin was repaired, including welding in new wheel well lips, then the inner panels were welded back in place.
     

What minor rust issues the car had were cut out, patches welded or filled in and the area smoothed out.
 
The front bumper was split and 3/8" removed from each side, then butt-welded back together to create a much tighter fit to the body. Finally the doors, fenders and hood were properly aligned before skim coating.
     

With the body coated in primer it is evident just how much talent and skill has been put into creating a straight and aligned canvas.
 


The car now is in the cue at Lanzini Body Works, the paint shop made famous by the show Overhaulin'.


What's Next?
Tim's goal is to have the car ready to debut at the SEMA show this October. The project has taken well over a year to get to this point, but the good news is that the most difficult parts are behind him. With the car going in for paint, a process surely to take another six to eight weeks, Tim can turn his attention to getting the Boss 429 rebuild. That may be tough for Tim to keep his mind on though, because, just as we publish this article, Chip Foose has offered to design the paint scheme for the car. We look forward to revealing that design in Part II of the Bad Boss.


 


Posted by 69rangerman, 05/01/07 09:40am:
Please tell me it's going to be black. This looks like it's going to be a car I'd pull over to the slow lane just to get a better view of.
Posted by goldy13, 05/01/07 04:30pm:
Black looks great but dosn't photograph well.The car has great body lines, don't go nuts with graphics. Id like to see what he's doing with the suspension, looks like he'll be putting out a lot of power.Popular Hot Rodding has been doing a series on a 70 torino, seems like this car is getting discovered, better buy one while they're still affordable.
Posted by MontegoMan351, 05/01/07 04:33pm:
SLEEEEEEEEEPER. Looks great.
Posted by ckelly, 05/02/07 01:50pm:
I'm not impressed with sombody paying $21K for body work. That's just as waste. But then I don't care if a car has it's original metal. SOme people do - but I can't find a reason why.
Posted by kblackav8or, 05/02/07 04:50pm:
Don't forget the King Cobra's that were prototyped that year. At least 1 had a Boss in it. Photos are on the net.
Posted by trinogt, 05/03/07 05:58pm:
Sweet, Tim! Please don't reveal the car until I get my old one back, or another like it... Torino prices will go crazy! Aw heck, that could take a while... Hurry up! lol Black will make the car look smaller... I think using Wimbledon White (period correct color) would look awesome with the right scheme added to it... Whie will also enhance the menacing size of the car to match the aggressive look the GT's have already built-in. Either way, Chip Foose will steer the car in the right direction! Have no fear.
Posted by morgan, 05/07/07 02:34pm:
Always liked that year Torino. It's going to be a killer ride.
Posted by 2002BLGT, 05/22/07 08:01am:
cant wait to see this finished
Posted by bhead, 05/22/07 08:27am:
Grabber Green Metallic (Paint Code Z - 1971) with Black gets my vote! 70-71 Torinos rule!
Posted by dm289, 05/22/07 05:53pm:
Car looks great, I owned a "Northern" 70 Torino in High School. I am into early mustangs now but have a soft spot for these. I think Grabber Green or Blue would be a good choice for color along with a "FOOSE-A-FIED" take on the factory LAZER stripes. In addition I would reccomend 15" Magnum 500s, Can't wait to see the results.
Posted by davriker, 05/26/07 07:16pm:
He sure started with a rough body in my book. My 70 Torino GT including soda blast to bare metal, all body work, and base coat/clear coat in Ford Sonic Blue ran out at under $10k. Pictures: http://rides.webshots.com/photo/1531473149031700858aVRTMt?vhost=rides
Posted by HankyJ, 06/10/07 06:17pm:
Awesome car. Just don't go weird with the paint scheme. Don't do a lot of graphics or stripes.
Posted by ELGT, 08/19/07 06:05am:
If only you could find Torinos in Australia....I want one. That is pure horn my friend.
Posted by oldsarge26, 10/06/07 09:42pm:
I am the proud owner of a 71 grabber yellow GT, and I have plans very similar to these for mine someday. I would love to see a modified version of the laser stripe by Foose put on the car.
Posted by rschuppe, 11/12/07 10:14am:
Okay for my second DUMB question of the day. Is the BOSS 429 larger heads on a 429 block?
Posted by paxxo, 04/21/08 09:40am:
What's happened with this project ? .. Has it got any further on ? Thanks Paul
Posted by dfree383, 08/20/08 05:07am:
we need an update.....
Posted by tonyperkins, 10/11/09 07:29pm:
UPDATE!!!!! UPDATE!!!!!! UPDATE!!!!! PLEASE!!!
Posted by dacofaII, 04/16/10 11:16am:
UPDATE PLEASE
Posted by lunaticfringe01, 04/22/10 04:23pm:
Whatever he does, don't let it be a SEMA show based paint design. It should be something sleeper like. Maybe with some dog dish hubcaps too. Please no OVERHAULIN' type paint job!!!!!
Posted by 73GTS4SPEED, 01/08/11 08:14am:
where is the car, what kind of headers did you install ?
Posted by CRAZYDAVE, 01/25/11 10:22am:
Any updates on this Torino??



 
 


Balancing the Budget

Item Cost
1970 Torino $6500
Boss 429 Engine $10,000
Spyder Intake $1,500
Dan Fink Metal Work $5,100
GMT Body Work $21,000
Lanzini Paint ???
Boss 429 Rebuild ???
Interior ???
Wheels ???
Sub-Total $44,100
Grand Total ???

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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